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social behavior and peer relationships.

Overall, the above findings extend our theoretical understanding in that, an investment pathway from poverty to conduct problem should include cognitive ability as a key mediator in line with previous findings on the mediating role of cognitive ability on parental investment . Additionally, it demonstrates how the effect of childhood poverty on cognitive ability and conduct problems can create a cycle of poverty in adulthood. Children living in poverty are more likely to begin school with significant disadvantages that include lower cognitive ability and higher levels of conduct problems, factors that may make them lose substantial grounds in educational attainment to their peers. . A resultant poor educational outcome and increased conduct problems over time means fewer prospects and success in the labor market, thereby creating a cycle of poverty. Breaking this cycle will therefore require attention to both raising educational attainment and reducing conduct problems. Further research is however needed in order to understand the directionality and nature of the relationship between cognitive ability and conduct problems.

In contrast to the underlying assumption of both the family stress and investment models , the effect of poverty on childhood conduct problems was not completely mediated by stress and investment variables. Consistent with previous findings, we found that economic deprivation directly influences conduct problems across the preschool years. However, not all studies have documented such direct effects and there is the suggestion that direct effects tend to be common when conduct problems are reported by caregivers other than by children or adolescents themselves A more plausible explanation for our finding is that the effect of poverty may be mediated by other factors such as, childhood stress . Future studies should therefore explore potential effects through child related variables such as, stress in addition to parental variables.